Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An Escort for a Soldier

On September 15th my fellow H.O.G. members participated in our annual “Iron Butt Ride” of 12.2 miles for charity. This was our was our 7th year and the money we raise goes to our scholarship charity that we award to a local graduating senior each year who lives in our county and has a relative who owns a Harley-Davidson. We had a lot of fun and my husband got real lucky and won the 50/50 raffle. Momma wants a new pair of shoes (notice I didn’t say I need a new pair of shoes).

We finished up the raffles and drawings quickly to stay on time because we had another important event to participate in. Several weeks ago two of our members ask if anyone would like to ride their bikes and help escort their son Tony who was returning home with his Stryker brigade from a fifteen month tour in Iraq. We arrived at the rest stop with thirty bikes and at least forty people when you count those riding two up.

Angie had contacted the Combat Vets and they arrived with a group to lead the escort and several other local chapters notified their members and we had sixty bikes for the escort waiting for Tony to arrive. Surprise--because Marla and Bill told their son they would meet him there but didn’t tell him that all these bikers would be waiting to cheer him home. You see Tony bought a Harley while he was in Iraq and he will take delivery of it October 5th and will become our newest H.O.G. member in the chapter.

All we could do was visit with friends and wait. Someone yelled, “here he is” and the look on his face was like, “where I am going to park my vehicle with all these bikes taking up the spaces?” Then people were calling out his name and waving and the look on Tony’s face was stunned silence. Marla had tears coming down her cheeks to see her son home safe. We gave the family a few moments for welcoming hugs and the Combat Vets then greeted their brother with hand shakes and hugs. Slowly most of the crowd also moved forward to either shake Tony’s hand, hug him, or both.

Mike S. was there with his trusty camera and wide angle lens for a few groups shots before we pulled out and headed up the highway. Several of the bikes with the Combat Vets lead the vehicle Tony was driving with his wife and baby. His family and the rest of the bikes fell into a staggered riding formation stretching out for almost a mile down the freeway. Riding farther back in the pack and sitting elevated on what everyone refers to as a “princess seat” on our ultra classic I had a view of the entire procession ahead of us when we hit the dips and twists. Quite impressive! I am sure the motorists who passed us wondered why there were so many of us and where we were going. Mike had gone ahead of us and was stationed on an overpass to take some shots of the escort parade coming into town.

We ended the ride in Bellingham at a park where everyone could visit and do some more picture taking. Bill spoke on behalf of the family and thanked everyone for making this surprise welcome home for Tony and his family a very special event. Bill also asked that we remember those who have not returned home alive and to remember those still serving their country.

Mike and Miss Patti had a large oversized flag attached to their bike all day and it was quit a sight waving behind their bike. At the park Mike presented Tony with the flag as a remembrance of his escort home.

I have always told my kids that you are born into a family and that in life you also have others who become your family. This HOG group is my family. Thank you Marla and Bill for inviting the HOG family to become a part of your family and sharing such a precious memory with us.

Friday, September 14, 2007

2007 WA State H.O.G. Rally pictures

2007 WA State H.O.G. Rally

Dreams do come true. When we attended Daytona Bike Week in 2001, I was wowed by the number of Harley’s all in one town. I told Larry that there must be a way to get the bikes to come to Bellingham--and so the dream was born. I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to make my dream become a reality and I knew that I would never get 500,000 bikes to come to Bellingham, WA. But I thought what if 500 bikes came to town...What if?

For the last thirteen months I have spent countless hours at a computer helping to plan and organize events for the 2007 WA State H.O.G. Rally. I had an incredible team of volunteers on the events committee who took on tasks, rides, and events, making them happen.

It began in Yakima WA in July, 2006, when the Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group of which I am assistant director and membership officer won the bid to host the 2007 rally. Everyone had ideas and we took the best of them along with ideas from internet research and we worked everything into our theme of “Higher Harley Education.”

Friday night at the movies to watch Wild HOGS, with popcorn, coca cola, and free give-away prizes was a huge success. We had rides to the top of Mt. Baker, to the shores of Birch Bay, down Chuckanut Drive, one of the most scenic roads in America, and all around our county crisscrossing the back roads. We had a riding biker bingo game, a black crow bug splat target game, and a poker run. If you were sore from riding, we had an onsite massage therapist to give shoulder and neck massages to make you relax and ready to ride again. There was a first aid/cpr class, DOT motorcycle endorsement classes, Harley history presented by our regional manger J.T. Hasley from H.O.G. headquarters, and a special one-of-a-kind class by Jim Fricke the museum curator for the new H-D museum that opens next year in Milwaukee. We had something for everyone including pedicures for the ladies (it is rumored that a picture exists of two manly bikers getting a pedicure) and a class on altering and decorating your rally t-shirt to make it more stylish by adding rhinestones, buttons, and even making strategic cuts to spice it up.

We hired the Ryan Stiles UpFront Comedy Club to perform Saturday night and danced under the stars in Red Square to a blend of oldies music. And still we thought we could do more. We planned a rocking up-beat Sunday morning worship service in a plaza over looking Bellingham Bay, followed by a Marine color guard presenting the flag and the national anthem was sung before one hundred and one Harley’s cruised through town for the first-ever bike parade. We returned to Red Square at Western Washington University for a bike show, more live music, afternoon movies, a picnic lunch, and more classes to choose from before closing ceremonies when we awarded the prizes, awards, and raffles to those attending.

It was a wonderful weekend with over four hundred bikers attending the first ever state rally held in Bellingham. A little drizzle in the beginning but most people understood it is western Washington--it rains. We had HOG members from fourteen states and Canada in attendance with about one hundred of those staying in dorm rooms on campus to live like a college student.

It was an achievement, an accomplishment, a triumph, what more can I say! What a great HOG chapter we have; full of active supportive members. We (all the staff, committee members, and volunteers) worked hard to give HOG members a rally like no other rally they had been to before. Our regional manager congratulated us on the rally for taking the initiative to try something new, a new site to hold the rally (a college campus), a new idea of providing classes, a new bingo game to play, and the enthusiasm to make it happen.

Now with this all said, we are ready to relax and let someone else do all the work and we will just attend the next rally as guests.

Thanks to Mike K, Cis, Angie, Rick, Rita, Dave, Jeannie, Mike G, Mike S, Glenn, McDave, Tom, Ken, Michelle, Larry, Dave B, Bob, Shelia, Vern, Martha, Marla, Art, Barbie, Angie, Lisa, Robin, LJ, Dave, Rick, Bob, Ken, Rob, Jerry, Jim, Ron, Gary, Mike H, Mark, Dick, Mike M, Chris, Ron, Philip, Bill, Bob, Jeff, Martha M, Kaye, Cosette, LuAnn, Terri, Harry, Susan, Martin, Steve, Eric, Larry B, Lorie, Rob, Michael, Diana, David, Michelle, Brian, Kathy, Candie, Heather, JD, Rick E, Marina, Dave J, Dawn, Susan, Tina, Sherry, Lily, and Miss Patti. Special thanks to JT Hasley our regional manager and Jim Fricke from the H-D museum and his band Whispering Johnson which made a special performance, Steve Steele and the Reflections, Eric Love and Wild Ride, and the Ryan Stiles UpFront Comedy Club performers.

Related Posts with Thumbnails